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NMP supervising conservation efforts on E. Samar church’s retablo

The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) is remotely supervising the conservation of the La Inmaculada Conception Parish’ side retablo in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

(Eastern Samar LGU via Hanah Tabios / MANILA BULLETIN)

It took three months before the NMP was able to organize and plan a conservation program for the church having been caught out by the pandemic which also prevented museum conservators from traveling to Guiuan town.

Listed as a National Cultural Treasure, the church is one of few in the Philippines to retain a high degree of architectural integrity with its coral construction and unique seashell interior decoration.

The NMP said the parish’ side altar required conservation when part of its embellishment fell and broke during the onslaught of Typhoon Ursula in December last year. It was also in the same month when the broken part was turned over to the parish.

“This may have come loose due to Typhoon Ursula in late December when the strong gusts of wind pushed open the church’s doors and broke windows. There were also a few tremors that may have had an impact, causing misalignment and detachment of the elaborate wings of the side retablo,” it said.

The damage was reported last March and the assessment revealed that the broken part could still be repaired and its missing parts could be replicated.

The museum conservators, with the help of the church officials, remotely directed the conservation process participated even by local community members who received the conservation training conducted by the NMP in the past.

The conservation process include the mechanical cleaning of the retablo using a soft brush, replacing broken wood with the salvaged wood from previous restoration and carved to the form of the damaged part; painting with acrylic paints mostly in hues of blues (no parts with gold leaf was affected), repaired parts were reattached using non-sagged marine epoxy glue and nails, and reinforcing them with nails, including its base.

The province of Eastern Samar boasts a rich history evident in the architectural legacy of Spanish era churches, stone houses, and bell towers.

The Inmaculada Conception Parish is a structure that withstand the test of time and is regarded as the finest baroque church in Eastern Visayas.

The construction of the church began in 1630. But from 1844 onwards, it had been renovated many times.

Severely damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international code Haiyan), the NMP also allotted estimated amount of P111,000,000 for the reconstruction and restoration of the church in 2014.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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